Monday, 30 October 2017

IS NALCOR OK WITH THIRD WORLD HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES?

What was Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) doing at the fly ash plant in Goose Bay two weeks ago? Did the Inspector order it closed, as a local source — a former worker — reports?

According to the source, the plant was ordered closed but was back in operation again within a day or two. 
The plant is the sole supplier of fly ash to the Muskrat Falls project. The operation is housed in an old hangar near the Goose Bay Airport. The building is reportedly in poor condition and, according to the former worker, unsuitable for its current use given the toxic nature of fly ash. 
Fly ash is used in conjunction with (or as a partial replacement for) Portland cement to improve a particular property of concrete (e.g. to slow hardening) or to restrict a specific chemical reaction.  It is a by-product of pulverized coal and this source believes that, based upon product data sheets, the ash contains a high percentage of silica.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

HAS THE A-G SPOKEN TRUTH TO POWER?

Guest Post by David Vardy

Introduction
Terry Paddon, the province’s Auditor General will be stepping down at the end of the month. His swan song was the recent release of his annual report to the House of Assembly, on the Audit of the Financial Statements of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, for the year ended March 31, 2017. 

In light of the parlous fiscal state of the Province one has to ask if he told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? 

Did he speak truth to power in a language that both citizens and their elected representatives can understand? In particular, how did he deal with the Muskrat Falls project? 

Monday, 23 October 2017

PREMIER SHOULD TELL BEOTHUCK ENERGY TO GO ‘FLY A KITE’

If you live in Newfoundland, you know all about wind.  There’s the natural kind… and then there’s the wind that keeps carpetbaggers aloft until the easy money disappears.

“If you got the juice we got the use,” Kathy Dunderdale was fond of quoting the New England Governors, the cost of producing the power never entering the equation. 
"Even if we produce everything we have here at Muskrat Falls and Gull Island, we still wouldn't fit all the energy demands south of the border," the CBC quoted Kirby Mercer in a story posted back in June. 
Mercer is the spokesperson for Beothuck Energy’s proposed wind power project in St. George’s Bay.
Like Dunderdale, economics seems not to matter to him either. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

FINANCE DEPT. FRUSTRATED BY NALCOR'S FAILED HEDGES

Not surprisingly when politicians and public servants screw up, and their error is exposed, the excuse register gets pretty crowded. That was the case when this Blog revealed that Nalcor lost $66.9 million on a hedging scheme in which it speculated on $1.82 billion of the most recent $2.9 billion Federal Loan Guarantee - funding for the Muskrat Falls project.

On NTV, August 21, 2017 CEO Stan Marshall defended the loss - suggesting nothing would have been said had it been a win. 

Of course, Marshall was mute about Nalcor's expertise in this complex and risky field. He did not mention if he had given any guidelines (limitations) to his officials - now speculators with the public purse.

Nor did he comment on whether those decisions are given over to some investment advisor with no skin in the game. And he offered no data as to the frequency of the Corporation's hedges. And, which would have been nice, he didn't confirm if – over time - wins/losses had evened out.

Certainly, there was no mention of Nalcor’s $14.1 million loss (including fees) reported in its December 31, 2013 Financial Statement . The losses were recorded on nine hedge contracts worth $2 billion entered into between December 3-6, 2013. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

VARDY TELLS B.C. "SITE C" INQUIRY NOT TO REPEAT MUSKRAT FOLLY

Editor's Note: When David Vardy released the essay entitled Making Best Use of the Lower Churchill: The Muskrat Falls Development, which he had prepared as a brief for the Action Canada Fellowship in 2011, it constituted the first sceptical appraisal of the many claims of the Williams Administration regarding the project.

It took six more years before then Fortis CEO and current Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall got around to describing the project as a “boondoggle”. But Vardy was there, at the starting gate, absent any but the public interest, to warn of that likely outcome and to replace hyperbole and falsity, often issued under the guise of patriotism, with objective analysis.

It can rightly be said that Vardy not just wrote the primer on the Muskrat Falls project; he was the "first responder" sounding the alarm, demanding notice of Muskrat as ill-considered, possibly injurious, public policy.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

MUSKRAT SUBSIDIES WILL CAUSE A GOV'T DEBT SPIRAL

Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL3: New Nalcor PPA Information Confirms Massive Revenue Problems

In PlanetNL2, Nalcor’s 50-year Dividends forecast was assessed along with the assumed costs of the 50-year Muskrat Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).  At the time, a revised Nalcor PPA cost forecast was not available, therefore some general guesstimates were made in the absence of specific numbers.  The preliminary analysis predicted huge subsidy requirements from Government to mitigate Nalcor losses and bankruptcy.

On October 3, 2017 Nalcor responded to a citizen’s Request For Information to issue the up-to-date forecast of PPA costs.  A full analysis is presented here using Nalcor’s own exact PPA and Dividend numbers, in combination with the Premier’s expressed 17 c/KWh rate cap, and the PlanetNL prediction that energy sales will fall by 30%.  The results are indeed as frightful as feared: Government debt is going to rapidly mount and crush program spending.
.….

Monday, 9 October 2017

PUBLIC INQUIRY NEEDS BROAD MANDATE SAYS VARDY

Guest Post by David Vardy

Framing the Mandate for a Commission of Inquiry
Premier Ball has announced that an Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project will begin soon, perhaps before Christmas. Before celebrating this announcement we need to know that the Inquiry will have a broad scope, as well as the necessary resources to do the job.
The Commissioners must have a wide range of expertise, including experience in managing major projects, as well as expertise in energy policy, project engineering and public utility regulation. The panel should include people who operate at an international level as well as Commissioners who understand the environment in which we operate. This mission calls for a broad set of skills and requires more than one  single Commissioner.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

WILL PREMIER ASSUAGE ONE PERSON'S WORRIES ABOUT PUBLIC INQUIRY?

The Premier’s announcement that he will reverse course and call a public inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project has attracted much comment on this Blog and in other forums. The public’s worst fear is that the inquiry will accomplish little and result in another waste of money. 
Scepticism abounds that government will restrict the inquiry’s mandate. 
Nalcor meddling is an undercurrent of the debate. Another is that the government will placate the many politicians and restrict the inquiry from having them testify and face examination.
Only the Premier can quell those fears with announcement of the broadest possible inquiry mandate.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

INQUIRY NEEDS ENGINEERING CAPABILITY TO UNCLOAK "BIG SCHEME COMPRISING MANY SMALLER SCHEMES"

Guest Post by Cabot Martin
My recent Uncle Gnarley posts have dealt with Emera and Civil Deceit (May 15)
and the risk of catastrophic failure of the hillside above the North Spur (September 28)
They are all connected; all part of the grand scheme.
That September 28th post more or less described the time bomb that Nalcor has constructed at the North Spur.
Today I’d like to go back to look at some of the design steps that got them there.
For background, the keeners amongst you can check out a long but well illustrated powerpoint on the North Spur issue on my muskratinfowebsite – 
Please restrain yourself until you are through reading this present much shorter Uncle Gnarley piece. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

NALCOR MEDDLING A THREAT TO MUSKRAT INQUIRY

If this were a different time, we would wonder why the Premier chose a Liberal Party fundraiser to announce that he will now call a Judicial Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project - the very people the $12.7 billion "boondoggle" will least affect.

If this were a different time, we would wonder why he chose to disclose one of the most important initiatives of his Administration to this group of peddlers, contractors and compradors that hung on Danny Williams’ coattails. 
If this were a different time, we might ask the Premier to share his moment of conversion and what inspired him to do an about face.  
However, while those things niggle at our sensibilities, none constitutes the real issue. The larger object of our focus, now, must be getting the right inquiry.